The Wondrous Ice Cave of Bixby State Park

Ice Cave

Bixby State Preserve is a quiet wooded area that is comprised of Silurian Escarpment a belt of bluffs that mark a rare Paleozoic Plateau.

Bear Creek is a small trout stream that winds and twists its way through the park, joining the Turkey River at its end. Bluffs of all sizes can be found in Bixby, ranging from 50 to 200 feet tall. The bluffs are rugged in exterior and covered with all kinds of incredible life. They tower over the creek as it trickles along. The sunset view from these bluffs ins impeccable. Vibrant colors dot this rare Iowa hillscape.

Perfect for taking hikes, woodland walks, or even fishing, the Bixby State Park Preserve is located just two miles directly north of Edgewood, Iowa. The 69 acres of land belonged to R.J. Bixby, a former teacher, farmer, and legislator. The man was bound and determined to get his land into the state park system, which it eventually was. Bixby had already allowed the public to travel through his property before the land became public, all free of charge. He wanted to share the beautiful scenery with anyone who had an interest. The Iowa Conservation Commission purchased the Bixby land in 1962. The park was later dedicated as a geological and biological state preserve in 1979.

If you ever find yourself down in Bixby, you may notice a cold breeze that sends chills up your spine– almost like you stepped into a cooler. The Bixby State Preserve is most known for the ice cave, which is located just a few hundred yards from the main entrance of the park, just over the small stream that is a part of Bear Creek. The total amount of ice underground is unknown. About a century ago, lead miners dug into the hillside to enlarge a crack in the limestone. Several local residents claim to have seen an ore cart, mining tools, and a rail for the cart, at the mouth of the cave, extending about 80 feet into the hillside. According to the legend, the mining efforts came to a halt after too much ice began forming inside the cave. So much ice in fact, that many residents of the Edgewood area claim they collected ice from the cave to make homemade ice cream. Others admit to stowing away their beer there as teenagers, hiding it from their parents.

Not only does the ice cave attract many visitors, but the park’s plants do as well. Bixby possesses one of the highest plant diversity ratios when compared to other Iowa woodlands. The park boasts more than 380 native species. Basswood Trees, in addition to Oaks, and Sugar Maple are a few. Others, such as Snow Trillium and wild Ginger speckle the woodland floor. In the summer, purple Joe-Pye-Weed can be found. Fall brings Coralroot Orchids and Asters to the area, making it a wondrous place to picnic.

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